Rightnowish: Scott La Rockwell and his Portraits of Town Folks

4 min
Scott La Rockwell and Pendarvis Harshaw (L–R). (Ashleyanne Krigbaum)

Scott La Rockwell has a deep catalog of fly photos. He's shot portraits of famous folks like Mike Tyson and Snoop Dogg, as well as everyday folks from Oakland, like Falcon Dave and Nicole Lee.

It's Scott's photos of everyday people from my hometown that gained my interest, and it's those images from Scott's collection that are part of a series he's currently undertaking.

His goal over the next year is to document 100 longtime residents from Oakland, and what the city means to them. He calls it the Townfolk Project.

Scott La Rockwell on the steps at Grand and Perkins in Oakland
Scott La Rockwell on the steps at Grand and Perkins in Oakland. (Pendarvis Harshaw)

Scott, who was raised in the East Bay but closer to the Delta, says he spent a considerable amount of time in Oakland as a kid. Now, having lived here for the better part of his adult life, he's giving something back to a city that gave him so much.

For the Townfolk Project, he's talking to natives and longtime residents, like Jazz Hudson and Falana Henson, and photographing them in their environment. It's an important piece of documentation, as a lot of longtime residents are being pushed out of Oakland—and their stories are going with them.

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With May 10 approaching—known as 510 day, when Oaklanders celebrate their area code (or, at least one of them; there’s also a new one now, 341)—I figured it was a good time to catch up with Scott and get a sense of what he's gleaned from talking to the Town's folks.

Scott La Rockwell has a gallery showing of his photos at Sol Gate Studios (3015 Myrtle St., Oakland), as part of the grand opening of Community Foods Market in West Oakland just a block away, on June 1, 2019.

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